New Aylesbury Vale District Council leader confirmed

Councillor Neil Blake, the new AVDC leader
Councillor Neil Blake, the new AVDC leader

Councillor Neil Blake was confirmed as the new leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council last night.

The election was a formality after Conservative members backed Mr Blake in a private vote on Tuesday.

In that private vote less than 50% of Conservatives supported the new leader, but all Tories who attended last night’s meeting voted for him.

Councillor Peter Cooper, an independent, was also nominated for the leadership and given the backing of the Liberal Democrats, Labour and UKIP.

However, the Conservatives’ majority meant Mr Blake won the vote by 30 to 19.

After being elected, Mr Blake said: “I’m truly honoured to be elected as leader and thank you to those who have supported me.

“I look forward to working with all groups.

“I will do my utmost to give due credit to this important position.”

In the Conservative race Mr Blake beat off competition from deputy leader Councillor Michael Edmonds and Councillor Phil Yerby, who did not attend last night’s meeting.

Mr Blake replaces Councillor John Cartwright, who has been leader for the past 13 years, and the new chief paid tribute to his predecessor, saying he has a ‘very hard act to follow’.

In an interview with the Bucks Herald last week, Mr Blake said council tax may have to be increased to fund projects that the council believes residents will benefit from.

He also said there may need to be service cuts to ensure the authority survives when government grants are further reduced.

Mr Blake intends to hold onto the cabinet member for resources post he has been in for the past four years while serving as leader.